Sault Ste. Marie’s Osborn Defying Expectations

SAULT STE. MARIE – Johnny Osborn is living proof of “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

A student at Sault Ste. Marie’s JKL Bahweting Public School Academy, Osborn, 9, has not let cerebral palsy stand between him and joining the school’s running club.

Johnny and his twin brother Andrew were born premature at 27 weeks old, and while both experienced brain bleeding as newborns, it was Johnny who suffered long-term effects, eventually leading to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

"The easiest explanation to give is that when babies are really premature, the weakest vessels are in their brain and at the point that really primarily affects mobility,” mother Andrea Osborn said. “With Andy, there is no delays, he has no long-term effects from his brain bleeds, but Johnny, it did end up hitting where it primarily affects his lower mobility and ultimately with the diagnosis of cerebral palsy."

Osborn recently underwent surgery in March to correct his legs, which were rotated inward from nearly the knees down, improving his mobility. 

Given a recovery time of nine to 12 months, Osborn sliced that time nearly in half, completing a full recovery in six months.

"They tried to precaution us going into the surgery,” Andrea Osborn said. “This is going to be a long-term rehab process. He is going to have to learn to re-walk again, he is going to have to learn to do things that he took for granted before, but once he gets past that relearning, he’s going to be able to advance his mobility.

"I would say, probably the most challenging aspect of being his parent, is pushing him. It’s not letting him get away with, ‘Oh, I can’t reach that, I can’t get that,’ to ‘Yes you can, get up and do it.’ If he falls, there is no sympathy from us; you get up, you tripped, you fell. Sometimes, you get looks from other parents that are like, ‘Give him a hand, help him out,’ and it doesn’t better him to baby him."

Andrea Osborn was initially hesitant about her son’s foray into running. But those concerns were quickly laid to rest by JKL Bahweting Public School Academy Runners Club coach Mike Gordon.

"Mom came up to me at the start of the year really concerned with how would Johnny do,” Gordon said. “I had no doubt that Johnny would persevere, that’s kind of how Johnny is, he perseveres. She was kind of worried how he would do on the trail by himself, what would happen if he would fall. We talked about it, Johnny and I and we always said, ‘What happens if you fall Johnny? ‘I’ll get up,’ he said, and that’s kind of the attitude that he has throughout his life. He doesn’t let things get him down, he perseveres through them. It’s a real inspiration… There has been numerous kids that come up to Johnny, give him a hug and ask him for his name and tell him how much of an inspiration he is."

When first considering joining the runners club, Johnny looked to his brother Andrew for inspiration.

"The only thing that really encouraged me was my brother, because my brother went and did all this stuff last year,” Johnny Osborn said. "I would probably tell others that if they say they can’t do it, I would tell them that even, you can do it, but you can’t just say ‘I can’t’ when I know you can. So, try your best even if you don’t succeed and if you try your best, you know you can always do better next time."

"Johnny wants to be a success at things,” added Andrea Osborn. “He gets down on himself, he really, he puts a very high expectation and a very high standard, he doesn’t want to be wrong, so he might hang back until he figures something out and has a game plan. But once he has that game plan in place, there is no stopping him. He knows what he wants and he’s going to get there."

Categories: Cross Country